Obama Administration Expands FMLA to Benefit Same-Sex Parents, Others

US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis recently posted an article in the Huffington Post about recent changes to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  The Department of Labor’s  Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-3 clarifies the definition of who is a “son or daughter” for the purposes of caretaker benefits under the FMLA.

Under the changes, any employee who has assumed the responsibility of parenting and caring for a child will be permitted to stand in loco parentis (in the place of a parent) for the purposes of obtaining FMLA leave.  As Secretary of Labor Solis explains:

When the Family and Medical Leave Act was first passed in 1993, it was a huge step forward in establishing the flexibility and security that the American workforce needed to care for our future generations. It allowed employees to take unpaid leave to care for their kids without the fear of losing their jobs.

But while many are quick to point out that the workplace, workers, and indeed the concept of families have changed, the flexibility to apply FMLA to shifting conditions did not.

Well, the Administration took a major step in recognizing the need for such flexibility on Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Labor issued Administrator’s Interpretation No. 1010-3, which clarifies the definition of “son and daughter” under the FMLA. In doing, so we have expanded FMLA protections to cover loving caregivers that have traditionally been left out.

The Department of Labor’s changes come largely in response to requests for guidance regarding whether employees who do not have a legal or biological relationship with a child may take FMLA leave for the birth, bonding, or care of the child.

By way of example, FMLA leave may be obtained by the same-sex partner of a mother who has given birth to a child via artificial insemination.  In another example, a non-biological parent may obtain FMLA leave in order to care for his or her partner’s child or children, even though no biological or legal relationship exists between them.

In essence, benefits are available to all persons who have assumed the responsibility of parenting a child, regardless of the absence of a biological or legal parent-child relationship.  For more specifics on the policy read the Department of Labor’s recent Administrator’s Interpretation No. 2010-3.

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